On his first day in office, President Trump signed an order that froze all regulatory processes. All new EPA rules that had not yet been published in the Federal Register were rolled back.
The amalgam separator rule was one of the casualties.
The National Resources Defense Council quickly filed suit, contending that “EPA broke the law by withdrawing the mercury protection rule without public notice or an opportunity for comment.”
In its complaint, NRDC contends EPA cannot withdraw the mercury protection rule based on the Trump Administration’s fiat because the rule is final. EPA issued the rule in December to limit substantially the amount of mercury dental offices across the nation discharge regularly.
So here’s the good news: Last week, the EPA reversed course.
“The EPA is taking an important step toward safeguarding Americans from a dangerous neurotoxin,” said Margaret Hsieh, an attorney on NRDC’s litigation team. “The agency decided to reissue the rule instead of defending in court the decision to withdraw it. Protecting the public—and not responding to a lawsuit—should have been motivation enough for this sensible action.”
And it is beyond sensible. The dental industry is one of the biggest mercury polluters there is. About half of all mercury that makes it into wastewater comes from dentistry. Not all of it can be removed at water treatment plants. Instead, it makes its way into the environment, where it affects us all.
Requiring separators is an important first step in reducing that pollution. But as we noted before,
it’s still just a partial solution. Dental mercury also finds its way into our environment from human waste, cremation, and burial, for instance. So long as any mouths contain mercury amalgam fillings, these are issues that require other solutions.
Even after mercury amalgam is completely banned, we will still be dealing with the consequences of amalgam for many decades. Until it is no longer present in any mouth, mercury-safe dentistry is a must.
Amalgam separators are a key part of that. Here’s more:
To see how we protect our patients, ourselves, and our planet when removing mercury fillings, check out our slideshow.
Thank you, NRDC for fighting the good fight – and thank you, EPA, for doing the right thing.